Queen Gets Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award . . . Or Do They??

Lila & I, with our friend Sue, were so excited to be selected as Seat Fillers for the Grammy Salute to Music Legends. As soon as I received the invitation, I scanned through the names of recipients and just about jumped out of my skin when I saw Queen would be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award!

Photo by Carol Hagey

Queen was listed among the 12 other names of Presenters and Performers. And logic would figure since they were receiving an award, they would be on the Performer side, right? And who would do their lead singing? None other than Adam Lambert, right?? After all, the U.K. Tour would be finished and Adam lives in the area, so it was a safe bet.

Bracing ourselves for a wild adventure, we drove up to LA Saturday, July 14th to the Dolby Theatre for the taping, to be shown sometime in the future on PBS. The whole idea of Seat Filler is a wacky way to see great entertainment, free of charge. You just never know where you’re sitting, how many times you may be moved, which artist you may be sitting next to, and whether or not you’ll get separated from the people you came with.

Warning, this will go long. I’m writing this in diary fashion, so you can take this ride with me!

We lined up outside the theatre in the bright sun for about an hour. After various rounds of ID checks, we were given blue ribbons and wristbands to wear. We were then led inside the Dolby and lined up outside the main theatre. There were about 15 lines with about 20 people per line, all single file. Lila was at the head of the last line on the right side, with Sue and me behind her in positions 2 & 3. We were told to put our phones away – absolutely no pictures were to be taken, even in the lobby. “We have eyes all over and you will be kicked out if we see your phones out.” We were also told not to approach anyone, asking for photos or autographs. When it was time to go in, they took all the people who were the heads of each line. I figured I’d be in the next group of 15 to go in, since I was in the #2 spot. But for some weird reason, all of the people remaining in the very first line on the left side filed in, then the next line, and the next line, until it got to the last line on the right, when Sue & I went in. So, right off the bat, we were separated from Lila by a couple of hundred people. Tip: when you go in a group to an event, decide on a meeting spot for later, in case you get separated. This was especially important since one of us had left their phone in their car in San Diego; I’m not naming names!

There’s a Left, Center and Right section in the theatre. They started filling the seats in the 3rd row, so being the first person in, Lila was at the end of one of the side sections. By the time Sue and I came in, we were dead center in the 5th row, in seats 4 & 5. I’m noticing the instruments set up on stage. There are 2 sets of drums, but neither looked like Roger Taylor’s drums. Within 10 minutes, Sue tapped me because she and the 3 people in seats 1-3 were having to vacate due to the owners arrival. Two really lovely couples sat next to me now, wearing lanyards marked Talent. I had seen one of the gentlemen earlier, and I thought he was a dead ringer for Bernie Sanders. I looked over and Sue was in the section next to me, about 3 rows back. I was relieved she still had a good seat and hadn’t been moved to the way back! I continued to chat with the 2 young men who were seated to my left. They both had been in LA for about 2 years, were as ambitious as they were attractive, and were working on getting into the industry. After about 20 minutes, both of them were “tapped” to vacate. So now it’s just me, sitting between the “real” people, 5th row, dead center. By now, Sue has been moved again, another 8 rows back. The show starts. The onstage band plays and we see the opening video montage.

Onstage was some fabulous singing by the female host, and the first award was being presented. It was a Lifetime Achievement Award going to Neil Diamond. Following a video career highlights film, Mickey Dolenz takes the stage, telling the audience of Neil’s personal impact on him. Did you know Neil wrote the huge Monkees’ hit, I’m A Believer? He also wrote Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, both big Monkees’ hits. (I know some of you are humming these songs now!) Then Mickey starts singing I’m A Believer and Neil comes out and joins him! Neil receives his Grammy and sings Sweet Caroline.

All award recipients were introduced with the same type of video introduction. Other Lifetime Achievement Award winners were Emmy Lou Harris, who sang with Trisha Yearwood and by herself, Jazz Artist Louis Jordan (posthumous recipient); from New Orleans, The Meters, who performed some really hot funk; and drummer Hal Blaine.

There was a lot of chatter in the lines outside earlier by fans looking forward to seeing Tina Turner! Now was her time. We watched her video introduction, were entertained by artist Ledisi, who did her best Tina Turner impersonation, complete with Tina’s iconic dance moves. Hoping to check off a Bucket List item that I didn’t even know I had, I eagerly awaited for Tina to come out and sing. But she was in Africa so she accepted her award via video.

These are the gentlemen I sat with. Don’t you think Richard (right) looks a little like Bernie?!
Photo by Carol Hagey

I’m still waiting for Queen and looking forward to seeing the audience get hyped from a million-star performance from these Royalty! During the commercial breaks I’ve begun talking to Karen, the lady sitting next to me, who took Sue’s seat. I asked what brought them there, and she proudly told me her husband (the Bernie Sanders look-alike) was receiving an award! Her husband is Richard Factor and together with his partner, Tony Agnello, they have created revolutionary audio equipment that is still the industry standard, and has been used on countless Grammy-winning recordings. Their company is named Eventide and in a nutshell, their several inventions can change the pitch of music, delay feedback, and do harmonizing effects, and more. Don’t shoot me, but they may be responsible for Auto-Tune, something Adam Lambert fans have never experienced, ha ha!

Karen mentions Queen and says she and Richard are fans, and have I seen Queen with their new lead singer?!? I of course answered her and not wanting to reveal how big of a Glambert I am, let her tell me that Adam is great because he doesn’t try to imitate Freddie, he’s his own performer! I just answer with, “I know, he’s a great fit for the band!” I then ask if they knew about the Vegas residency in September, and she gets excited, saying they’ll definitely drive up from Arizona for it. It was really sweet to see Karen and Richard holding hands through much of the show.

By now, they’re announcing the Music Educator and Trustees Awards, which are going to Bill Graham, a king of concert promotion; Seymour Stein, a guru of new talent discovery; and John Williams. Yes, the John Williams who’s the composer of Star Wars, Jurassic Park, E.T., Schindler’s List, etc.! Then my seat neighbors are receiving their awards, and I feel kind of giddy because now I feel like I know them . . . at least a little bit.

At the next break, I congratulate Richard and talk a bit about how cool it must be to hear his inventions as they’re used. Then he asks about my attendance at the event, and I tell him I’m a Seat Filler. He looks at me with wide eyes asking, “how’d you get that? I’ve always wanted to do that!!” He turns to his partner Tony Agnello, and tells him all about me being a seat filler, who’s equally enthralled. Amazing! I’m oogling over them and their talent, and they’re just as excited to meet a seat filler, ha ha!!

Lights out – the show’s back on. Sammy Hagar is now on stage, for I’m sorry, I don’t remember why. But he’s wearing a cool white jacket that has red chevrons on the sleeves. He sings a Van Halen song and they go to a commercial.

I start talking to my award-winning neighbors again. I then tell them I’m really looking forward to seeing Queen and they tell me they’re not there! Whaattt??? Not there?? They know this because all the Talent was backstage for photographs earlier. Richard sees my disappointment, and pulls out his cell phone and shows me a picture from the past of him and Brian May, backstage. It makes total sense that they’d know each other. They began their company in 1970 and I’m sure they’ve discussed the equipment with Queen. Not to be bested, I pull out my phone (yes, I’m praying I don’t get seen!) and show them my picture of me kissing Adam on the cheek. They get a real kick out of it and I then tell them I write this website for Adam. He starts asking me all kinds of questions about it, and I pull out my business card for the website. He takes it, tells his partner all about me, asks for another card, then the lights go out again.

Photo by Carol Hagey

The video screen is filled with Queen photos and live action. It mentions their successful return to world touring, but no mention of Adam. I’m not surprised. The award is just for the original Queen foursome. I already know they won’t be there but I’m expecting to see them accepting their award in video style, like Tina Turner. The video intro ends, the band starts up with We Will Rock You, and I’m still secretly hoping at least Adam is there to sing. But NO!! Who walks out but Sammy Hagar! He’s wearing a different outfit, more subdued than the last. He starts singing, not looking too confident, and sounds okay – like Paul Rodgers. The song ends, and we just hear a “thank you for coming” announcement. Whaatt?? No Lifetime Achievement award for Queen??? What the heck??? Did Sammy Hagar even know he was singing for Queen??

Lila has a whole different version of this story because she was sitting somewhere else. She even was moved into the front row for a while. Hopefully, she’ll put in her own contributions.

Keep your eyes open for when this is shown on PBS. I can’t wait to see how they’ve spliced in what will probably be Queen’s video acceptance. But you’ll know the truth of how the night really went! If you’re still with me, I hope you’ve enjoyed this and feel like you were there!

Love ya!

~ Carol ~

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  1. Hi, Carol, I just want to thank you and Lila and She for keeping this site going. I can never give of reading about Adam. Thanks again for your dedication and love.

  2. Donna Cooper says

    CGreat story. Thanks for telling us all about your adventure!

  3. Janet Morse says

    Wow! What an experience! As always, you have the best stories. Makes me consider moving to sunny CA. Oh wait, earthquakes. Never mind. ????

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience!!!! You did a great job !!!

  5. ellen gomberg says

    Great story ! You and Lila should write a book about all of your Seat Saver stories !

  6. Phyllis Hoffman says

    Carol, it just confirms to follow your heart.

    Look where it’s led you. Going to Vegas on Sept 21st. Can’t wait!

  7. MaryLou Scalise says

    Grrrreat story. I felt as if I was there. Wishing Queen had been there and Adam.

  8. Therese gordon says

    Thank you so much Carole, for letting us in on your awesome adventure! Bummer that Adam and Queen weren’t there! That was great hearing about your chats with your seat neighbors!

  9. Therese gordon says

    Awesome story Carol! Thanks for sharing your amazing adventure!

  10. Eliane Mello says

    Amazin time! I’m glad with your experience

  11. Lila Hayes Zubik says

    That day was a lot of fun! I ended up in the fourth row, sitting in the seat of a guy who plays in the band for Emmie Lou Harris. I chatted with his wife for about 1/3 of the show until he performed and came to his seat to see the show. I was then moved to the side to stand and wait to be a filler again, then I was placed in the front row, then back to the band member’s seat while he went back stage to chat with friends. I was also disappointed not to see even a video package for Queen, but since this show won’t air for months, I’m sure they’ll add one in later. I can’t wait to see it all put together! All in all, it was quite the adventure!